A student of mine was told by a native German that they do not say

Ich habe Hunger.

but rather

Ich bin hungrig.

Is the first expression outdated?


3 Answers 3


Ich habe Hunger is perfectly acceptable on all levels of conversation and used without afterthought as a viable alternative to Ich bin hungrig. The former is neither outdated, nor inappropriate in any way.

This is based on the experience of a German native to eastern Germany.

Using Google nGrams, it appears that Ich habe Hunger is in fact more commonly used than the alternative, having significantly increased in relative popularity since the 1970s.

Comparison of phrase usage from Google nGrams


As already told both expressions are used. However, there's a difference. »Ich habe Hunger« always refers to food, »Ich bin hungrig« not necessarily, it can mean »I'm ambitious«.

A person also can be

hungrig nach Liebe / Anerkennung / Abenteuern ...
(hungry for love / acceptance / adventures ...)

  • Also, 'ich habe (mal wieder) Hunger auf Fisch' can mean that the speaker craves fish, and not necessarily that he is in fact hungry.
    – Philipp
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 19:39
  • 2
    @PhilippFlenker: Wenn mir einer sagt »Ich habe (mal wieder) Hunger auf Fisch«, würde ich das schon so verstehen, dass er essen will, und ihm erwidern: »Du, ich hab jetzt keinen hier.«
    – Pollitzer
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 7:04
  • @PhilippFlenker: if I wanted to express what you're suggesting I'd say:"Ich hátte mal wieder Lust auf Fisch".
    – tink
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 18:34

No, the first expression is not outdated. Both expressions are used in common conversations. Both expressions have the same meaning and can changed among themselves.

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